The Saint Paul Almanac celebrates the start of the New Year with its first literary program of 2010, an event of the monthly Lowertown Reading Jam Series featuring emerging Native American writers.

Hosted by Marcie Rendon, Anishinabe, the Monday, January 4 Lowertown Reading Jam takes place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street, located across the street from the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market. Rendon has been instrumental in creating a viable Native presence in the Twin Cities artistic community, and she wears many hats including those of poet, playwright, children’s author, freelance writer, and performance consultant.

Joining Rendon are six participants in the 2009 Native American Cycle of the Loft Inroads Program, coordinated by The Loft Literary Center. Among the readers is the program’s 2009 mentor, Gwen Griffith, Dakota. Griffith’s essays and poems have appeared in journals and books, and she has a forthcoming collection of poetry in Dakota and English, Follow the Blackbirds. Five of the programs mentees are also reading their work: Jay Thomas Bad Heart Bull, Marisa Carr, Colleen Casey, Emily Johnson, and Alexander Wanna.

Rendon participated in the Loft Inroads Program in 1991 under the mentorship of Jim Northrup, an experience which she said dramatically changed her writing career. Northrup encouraged his mentees to find opportunities to read their work publicly, something which has played a significant role in helping Rendon get her work known and published. She says this of her inspiration for the January 4 Reading Jam, “Hosting an evening of new Inroads mentees is my way to continue and give back what my mentor gave me. I want to provide these writers with exposure and experience, as well as give our audience the experience of hearing Native worldview.”

The Lowertown Reading Jam Series continues at the Black Dog Café on the first Monday of the month through July. Each session is hosted by a well-known writer or spoken word artist, and Saint Paul artist Lara Hanson interprets the readings through drawings using Japanese ink brushes. Free hors d’oeuvres are served, and the Black Dog Café offers its “Monday Madness” special featuring a large pizza and bottle of wine or a large pizza and four Summit beer taps for just $20. All Reading Jams are American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted.

Now in its fourth year, the Saint Paul Almanac features essays, poems, photos, maps, and listings of events, bars, restaurant, theaters, and other cultural venues within a datebook format. The 2010 Almanac features 135 works by 110 writers. These writers include literary giants, everyday residents, students, journalists, new Americans, and lovers of Saint Paul who live in other corners of the world. Writers interested in having their work considered for the 2011 Almanac have until March 31, 2010 to make a submission. Information on upcoming events, how to make a submission, and other Saint Paul Almanac news is available at

The 2010 Saint Paul Almanac sells for $11.95 online at, and is available in independent and mainstream bookstores, including Barnes & Noble, Borders, and

Saint Paul Almanac activities are made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council from an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature. Sponsors and partner organizations include the City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul STAR Program, The Lowertown Future Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation, Black Dog Café and Wine Bar, Twin Cities Daily Planet, KFAI Radio, and The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.

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